The prosecution of two activists dubbed the “Christmas Carol Criminals” collapsed when a Perth magistrate dismissed all charges on June 29.
Alex Bainbridge and Miranda Wood from the group Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) had been charged with trespassing during a December protest outside Israeli cosmetics company Seacret. Seacret benefits from the illegal occupation of Palestine by stealing minerals and resources from the Dead Sea to use in its products.
The company has been targeted by FOPWA and other campaigners around Australia as part of the boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel.
Bainbridge told Green Left Weekly: “This [acquittal] is a tremendous victory for freedom of speech and the right to protest.
“The court action against the Max Brenner 19 in Melbourne and recent attempts by NSW police to prevent a pro-Palestine demonstration from taking place in Sydney demonstrate that there is a notable pattern of legal harassment against the BDS movement.
“In the current climate, Palestine [solidarity] activists have to fight not only for justice for Palestine, but also for the very right to protest.”
The FOPWA arrests were part of the same pattern. Evidence presented in court demonstrated that the arresting officer was targeting individual activists and that he had not given them any time to comply with a direction to leave the shopping centre.
This was explicitly endorsed by the magistrate in his summation and was a key reason the prosecution failed.
More than 40 activists joined Father Christmas in attending a support action for the Christmas Carol Criminals as their court case began on June 28.
[Friends of Palestine meets fortnightly at the CitiPlace Community Centre. For more information visit fopwa.org.]